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Will the larger-than-life grandeur of South Cinema steal Bollywood’s thunder?

The Bollywood industry has gone through a turmoil in the past few years. Whenever someone was asked about Bollywood, such as Masaledaar Movie with Maar Dhaad (Action), Melodrama, larger than life scenes, Item Songs are the first things to strike the mind. However, bollywood has now lost all its flavours over the years.

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Now it is just a movie starring a big star, a star kid or an outsider. There is no more romance, no more rivalries, no action, no passion. The content of Bollywood has now deteriorated over the years. Over the past few years, the bollywood movies are either based on real life incidents or it is an adaptation of some other movie. And these adaptations are usually from the south.

Is Bollywood losing the plot?

Karan Taurani, Senior VP at Elara Capital, noted, "I think music and content has been below par, which is why the Hindi film industry is struggling. But I believe that they will make a very strong comeback as we saw this 3-4 years back as well. When ‘Baahubali’ came in, there was an entire struggle period for the Hindi film industry, but they did make a comeback with new stories and scripts. So I think this is a transition which is there.”

According to actor Gulfam Khan, “We definitely have not been concentrating on what touches the heart of the two or three tier public which is essentially the strata that make a movie hit or flop. The underdog turns into a hero. We still want to see hope and action on the big screen but action that makes a boy next door hero, best example would be ‘Dabangg’ or the comic movie ‘Hera Pheri’. One is an action flick and another makes a hero out of three losers.”

South Indian cinema has given a very strong competition to Bollywood over the past few years. This started with the ‘Baahubali’ Part 1 movie. With a worldwide box office gross of ₹600–650 crore ($93–101 million) ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’ became the highest-grossing film in India, third highest-grossing Indian film worldwide, and highest-grossing South Indian film, at the time of its release. The movie was dubbed in over ten languages including Chinese, German and French and was a resounding hit all over. The second part, ‘Baahubali: The Conclusion’ was an even bigger blockbuster. Post the pandemic, we have seen diverse content changing the rules of entertainment. ‘Pushpa’, ‘KGF’, ‘Jai Bhim’ and ‘RRR’, too, are great examples of how well the south Indian movies perform significantly well in the Indian cinema.

About this new trend, veteran producer Anand Pandit said, “I see this trend as a welcome opportunity to create a richly diverse Indian film industry. It is wonderful to see actors, producers  and directors  collaborate across industries and this exchange will benefit everyone, including the audience.”

Strong Strategy of the South

When it comes to South Indian cinema, it has massively grown in the past few years. And while Bollywood was adapting movie ideas from south and west, the south Indian cinema stuck on their traditional movie making with the hero as the god and heavy in action. The genres of south Indian cinema are also diverse and rich in content. South Indian Cinema is full of Action and Drama, the actors too are worshipped like god. As per the EY-FICCI report, South Indian movies surpassed the revenue of Bollywood movies in 2021 and earned a whopping revenue of Rs 2,400 crore. Apart from this, there are a lot of these movies which are shown on Hindi movie channels dubbed in Hindi.

On this, Gulfam Khan said, “They work to make the whole Cinema better. They go all lengths and like always the circle is complete when they earn as good too. They still have the concept of the hero, heroine, the villain and the comic. It is a cliché and it always works – whether it is ‘Maine Pyaar Kiya’, ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayengey’ or yesteryear’s ‘Ganga Jamuna’.”

Anand Pandit pointed out, “South Indian filmmakers go beyond Tier-1 and Tier -2 cities for their movie promotions. It could be through media outreach, television , print, and outdoor advertising or digital marketing. The makers of ‘Pushpa - The Rise: Part One’ used influencer marketing techniques to reach a wider audience. The videos of its songs and dialogues were shared by cricketers like Suresh Raina and David Warne on their Instagram pages. ‘RRR’ had a tie-up with PVR cinemas and PVR marketed the movie as PVRRR. So yes, there is a lot to unpack in these strategies, but the main winner is the content. It is that which is clicking in a big way with the audience.”

Karan Taurani added here, “Back in the days, regional movies were not able to reach the Hindi audience because all your advertising and awareness was only done through the TV medium, but now with the digital medium has become like an open world and regional producers can reach the Hindi audience.”

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